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staff babysitting


JayneD
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Hi just after your views on staff babysitting for parents.

 

I am personally against my staff babysitting for our parents. I understand parents wanting to use them especially if they have no extended family or friends locally that they can rely for support but worry about any incidents/ accidents that may occur that would be detrimental to the member of staff or even the nursery.

 

After reading the article on safeguarding and the Birmingham case review in Nursery World I thought i would gather your views on it, I'm tempted to draw up a policy stating that we wouldn't promote such a service but if staff and parents choose to do so they sign a contract to state that it is a private arrangement between themselves and that the nursery has no responsibility.

 

Any ideas ???

 

 

 

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To me this is a big no no. Like you say if anything were to happen while babysitting it could be so detrimental to the setting (and of course the child and staff member) whether you get a contract signed or not whatever happens will reflect badly on the setting too.

 

I attended Safeguarding lead practitioner training earlier this year and this issue came up and the trainer was so against it.

 

Saying that though one of my members of staff is godmother to a child who has just left the setting - because they are friends and she became godmother before even starting work with us .

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This is a very tricky issue.

 

Firstly, parents invest so much trust in practitioners when they choose a setting, and their children build close and trusting relationships with staff. So if they do not have family members or friends who can babysit it is perhaps natural that they should look to those practitioners for support.

 

However as a setting, the implications of something going wrong in this informal relationship is potentially devastating, and if there was an allegation of any kind against the practitioner when they were babysitting, it would reflect on the quality of care the setting offers.

 

But the big question is how can you stop it from happening? Can you legally stop your employees engaging in a private arrangement to work outside the nursery's premises and hours of operation? Perhaps having a contract/policy statement will limit your liability, and make the principle very clear, but it wouldn't stop your setting being involved in any subsequent investigation should the absolute worst happen.

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I don't think you can dictate what staff and parents do outside your setting.

If you forbid it, some will probably do it anyway, possibly causing a discipline issue you needn't have had.

Why not add a clause to the general contract stating that you don't accept responsibility for childcare or babysitting undertaken by staff outside the setting, that the setting insurance will not cover them, that confidentiality must be maintained at all times and that conversations making arrangements must be held off the premises?

Edited by Upsy Daisy
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Upsy raises an important issue here: that of confidentiality. It is all too easy for the relationships between practitioners and parents to become slightly blurred when there is a personal relationship that operates outside the setting alongside the professional one inside it.

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Our LA safeguarding training makes it crystal clear that staff baby sitting for clients is a no no and we have this in our safeguarding and child protection policy

 

§ Children, staff and volunteers are protected by our refusal to allow staff or volunteers on long term placement to engage in baby/child sitting services for clients of the setting.

Whilst I have every sympathy with parents who don't have local family or friends that can baby sit as an employer it is up to me to ensure that staff and clients are protected. Worse case scenarios e.g., staff member abusing child whilst babysitting, staff member being accused of abusing child whilst babysitting, child coming to some accidental harm whilst staff member is babysitting will all have major implications in respect of the setting being able to continue to provide a service which could then jeopardise the jobs of all who work at the setting just for an hour or twos babysitting.

Also parents are only really known in the context of their contact with the setting - it could be that staff "discover" other things such as domestic violence, neglect etc. that then put them in the unenviable position of having to make a referral etc.

As Maz has said it could v. easily lead to a blurring of the professional relationship between the client and the setting and setting staff.

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At my place of work, we all have signed a disclaimer that states any babysitting is done independently of the setting etc. Etc.

As a practitioner, I have never and will never babysit. I don’t feel it is my place to tell others how they should act, however, I do have a personal view...

I believe we have trained and gained qualifications to improve our practice, knowledge and understanding of young children. It feels like we as a profession, are continually trying to raise expectations of who we are and what we do. (And the wages!!!) I’m not sure we will never receive the respect we deserve ‘babysitting’.

Shall I take cover now?

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I believe we have trained and gained qualifications to improve our practice, knowledge and understanding of young children. It feels like we as a profession, are continually trying to raise expectations of who we are and what we do. (And the wages!!!) I’m not sure we will never receive the respect we deserve ‘babysitting’.

Shall I take cover now?

Madcatlady you raise an interesting line of enquiry here - I wonder how many teachers would babysit for the children in their classes and whether it would be permissible?

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Madcatlady you raise an interesting line of enquiry here - I wonder how many teachers would babysit for the children in their classes and whether it would be permissible?

 

I have known teachers who have been willing babysitters for the children in their classes, with the knowledge and permission of their head teacher. My daughter is a teaching assistant and provides babysitting/respite care for one of the families in the school, both when they were in her class, and now that they've moved up.

 

Tricky debate, this!

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I believe we have trained and gained qualifications to improve our practice, knowledge and understanding of young children. It feels like we as a profession, are continually trying to raise expectations of who we are and what we do. (And the wages!!!) I’m not sure we will never receive the respect we deserve ‘babysitting’.

Shall I take cover now?

 

 

One of the very few people I could ask to babysit for me when my children were younger was their Reception teacher. She knew my daughters very well and they were comfortable with her. I don't think she ever felt that it compromised her professional image or integrity in any way. As far as I'm aware she didn't feel the need to inform the Head Teacher.

 

We were both adults making an arrangement outside school. It didn't occur to either of us that it concerned the school in any way.

 

I think there needs to be some consideration given to the message we send to members of staff and parents if we decide that staff cannot be trusted to conduct themselves appropriately outside the setting.

 

I am not aware of any case where a setting has been criticised or held to account for the actions of their staff when caring for children outside the setting. Can anyone link to one for me?

 

I worked as a childminder and a nursery practitioner at the same time for a while and one child was with me in both settings. Should the nursery owner have been concerned about how I conducted myself as a childminder?

 

I also knew a few parents whose children have complex additional needs and the only people they feel can competently care for their children are those who are used to meeting their needs on a daily basis in school or Early Years settings. If they couldn't employ these TAs and nursery staff they wouldn't be able to go out.

 

Just out of interest, would a policy of prohibiting staff babysitting be accepted as good reason to discipline or sack a member of staff in a tribunal process?

 

 

 

 

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I am not aware of any case where a setting has been criticised or held to account for the actions of their staff when caring for children outside the setting. Can anyone link to one for me?

 

For me it worked the other way around. One of my colleagues made some decisions during an incident at nursery that completely crossed the boundaries of professionalism, based upon her relationship with the family outside the setting.

 

That's what I meant when I talked about 'blurring the lines'.

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And here's another thing that bothers me.

 

Remember the case of Vanessa George, imagine if parents from that nursery had hired her as a babysitter, relying on the fact that she had a CRB check and was a trusted member of the nursery? :(

 

Maybe as thumperrabbit suggests, everything is fine until something goes wrong? I know from experience that there is no way of knowing how people will react when the brown sticky stuff hits the fan.

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And here's another thing that bothers me.

 

Remember the case of Vanessa George, imagine if parents from that nursery had hired her as a babysitter, relying on the fact that she had a CRB check and was a trusted member of the nursery? :(

 

Maybe as thumperrabbit suggests, everything is fine until something goes wrong? I know from experience that there is no way of knowing how people will react when the brown sticky stuff hits the fan.

 

I can imagine parents taking the view that a practitioner can be trusted on the basis that they are employed in a nursery but I can't see how this puts the nursery at risk as I assume the CRB check would be in place. The fact that a CRB check doesn't protect children is hardly the fault of the nursery.

 

However, it has occurred to me that the management may find themselves in a very difficult position if they find themselves taking action against a member of staff due to child protection concerns. Could they inform the parents? Is the setting then at risk of legal action by the practitioner who is accused? Is the setting at risk of action by the parents if they aren't told until too late?

 

If the babysitting is an open arrangement, at least the management know about it and could inform the relevant authorities. If it's an arrangement that's not approved of and therefore kept under wraps, nobody would be aware that the children were at risk but the setting may be safer.

 

This thread is quite an eye-opener!

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I would not go down this route, it is the whole issue of confidentiality . Making sure the reputation of the setting is not bought into disrepute . Let alone issues around safe guarding.

 

If your policies state staff cannot do this then they can't . It's not about controlling staff outside of work but its having clear boundaries. Some friends of mine work in a a school where you are not allowed a Facebook account.

 

It's keeping staff, your setting and children safe

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Some friends of mine work in a a school where you are not allowed a Facebook account.

 

No workplace can ban you from having a private Facebook page. They can however sack you if they find out that you've written something which will affect them in some way.

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What about other professionals who come into contact with children?

 

Is it OK for a nurse to babysit families they could see in A&E?

What about a police officer or PCSO?

A teacher? The child's class teacher?

Would it be OK for staff to babysit for families whose children are cared for in a different part of the setting so there is no daily involvement at work?

What if a niece or a grandchild of a member of staff were cared for in the setting?

What if the setting is term time only and a staff member cares for the children in the holidays as a nanny or in a playscheme?

If confidentiality is an issue do you allow staff members to socialise with parents? Confidentiality is more likely to be at risk on a boozy girls' night out than during babysitting.

Not being argumentative. I really would like to hear what people think.

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Presumably these other babysitters are friends and that is different from having setting staff babysitting children that attend your setting

 

You would not have an a and e nurse offer to babysit or a police officer unless they happen to be good family friend or relative

 

We have mixed on a fund raising session but otherwise staff are not encouraged to socialise with parents

Edited by Suer
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I find this an interesting discussion and has lots of points raised..

 

A lot of it depends on the area an personal circumstances etc.. here a lot of the parents and staff all knew each other well outside of the setting... sometimes the reason the parent chose to send the children to us was because of this...

 

were we supposed to say no because you are friends with staff member, or often more than one staff member and often socialise or babysit each others children... it did make transition to the setting simple and easy for these children .

 

yes we had a staff member who was nanny to one of the children when not in the setting... for 2 days a week when mum worked she took the child home and sorted out tea etc.. she was already doing this when she came to work for us, and had been at her previous setting.. mum moved the child to us when the staff member moved.. never saw a reason not to allow it..

 

And being a small town it is impossible to go for a night out and not bump into a group of parents who were friends and out together...so trying to ban socialising out of the setting was not really possible.. some were related, others became friends.. if the staff did not know the parent they knew a relative!

 

What was done was pointing out to the staff the pitfalls and confidentiality side.. and parents were made very aware it was not in any way related to the setting..

 

To try to have a ban on a lot of it would have ended up with no staff..

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What about other professionals who come into contact with children?

 

Is it OK for a nurse to babysit families they could see in A&E?

 

What about a police officer or PCSO?

 

A teacher? The child's class teacher?

Would it be OK for staff to babysit for families whose children are cared for in a different part of the setting so there is no daily involvement at work?

 

What if a niece or a grandchild of a member of staff were cared for in the setting?

What if the setting is term time only and a staff member cares for the children in the holidays as a nanny or in a playscheme?

 

If confidentiality is an issue do you allow staff members to socialise with parents? Confidentiality is more likely to be at risk on a boozy girls' night out than during babysitting.

 

Not being argumentative. I really would like to hear what people think.

 

 

Any relatives of police officers on here? I'm not one of those, but I would assume they wouldn't be allowed to babysit - or develop a personal relationship with - children from any family they came into contact with professionally. I'd say it may also be the same for a nurse or doctor - there would be a blurring of the professional relationship. I'd also assume (perhaps wrongly) that if a family they had a close relationship came into professional contact with their agency, that they would not be involved in their case. Of course I'm willing to be corrected on that point! ;)

 

I think the concerns expressed in this thread come down to issues of confidentiality and suitability. If we can't trust our colleagues to maintain confidentiality then we don't have the basis of a strong, cohesive team and that would worry me in any case. That said, I do believe that once personal and professional relationships are blurred in this way, breaches of confidentiality - however innocent - are more likely to occur. This makes it really important that all practitioners are aware of the setting's policy with regard to how to conduct themselves if they babysit for any of the children in the setting, whether they are related to them or were friends with them prior to coming to the setting or not.

 

Obviously I wouldn't hire anyone I thought was unsuitable to work with children, however as you said earlier Upsy, the CRB is not foolproof and I think I would feel hugely responsible if something were to go wrong, even with a policy and a signed agreement in place to protect me.

 

Ultimately I'm not sure how legal it would be for a setting to seek to prevent staff babysitting outside of working hours, any more than it is to prevent them having a facebook or twitter account. I guess all we can do is to make people aware of the pitfalls, agree a code of conduct and make our policies and procedures transparent.

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In the past as a qualified nurse working on a children's ward.. we did babysit for parents..not sure it would be allowed now.. but it was known that we did it, and no one objected.. in most cases it was for children with the chronic illnesses that parents would not feel able to leave at all , without this little extra support from us they would never have had any break.. but for us we had medical help on hand easily with a the doctor on call knowing us and the child so help was a phone call away..I used to babysit for the doctors as well.. all the time.. they often came and asked on the children's ward for sitters...most of them only knew us in passing, the fridges were well stocked on goodies for those jobs..

 

No one ever thought professional lines were blurred, more an extension to our role with them and parents did pay us to do it.. as I had no transport they always collected me and took me home as well..

 

I am sure now it would be frowned upon because of all the issues raised... but at the time... all was good.. in some ways I find it sad to think that in 30 years how times have changed and the worries now raised, over what was/is a helpful and rewarding thing to do, now prevents it from happening.

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I also think it can sometimes put staff in an awkward position when outside of the work place.

 

Of course friendships occur prior to commencing a setting, we all have those situations I'm sure, that's where robust policies come into play and also supervision and keeping safe guarding a constant topic.

 

I personally would not want my staff babysitting for the run of the mill, every day parent . Xx

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Spiral

Interesting points, however, are we able to state in our staff's contracts that it is deemed unacceptable for staff to babysit...or even attend children's parties etc?

 

Is the law backing up the wishes of the staff or the setting?

 

Personally, I am unhappy with staff babysitting. I would expect them to get their own DBS checks (at cost to them) and to sign a disclaimer which states clearly that they cannot discuss other children/staff etc and that the training they have undertaken in specific to the nursery, not to babysitting out of hours.

 

Does anyone have any links with safeguarding docs?

Spiral :-)

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This is an extract from the Plymouth Serious Case review which, whilst was about K babysitting for the manager, demonstrates how abusers can use babysitting as a mechanism for gaining a position of trust and blur professional boundaries.


It is quite clear that K had gained a position of trust with the manager, who

allowed her to babysit for her foster children. Some staff referred to K being

one of a clique. Her position of power within the staff group was such that

although staff became increasingly concerned about her crude language,

discussion of extra-marital relationships and showing indecent images of adults

on her phone, they were unable to challenge her.

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Guest Spiral

Exactly!

 

However are we legally allowed to state that staff will not babysit for children who attend the pre-school?

 

it's so very disheartening when there isn't clarity.

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